*Featured photo: MOUMITA BASAK, When will I get it. Courtesy of the artist
MOUMITA BASAK was born in a village called Srirampur in 1996, in the Burdwan district in West Bengal, India. After high school, she was admitted to the Govt College of Art & Craft in Calcutta. She participated in the College’s annual exhibitions and was awarded the Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin scholarship for many academic years, until she obtained her MFA in 2022.
Her works were exhibited at KCC Art Fair in Emami and St-Kurge The Creation at ICCR in 2019 and in the same year Basak participated in KCC Art Fair workshop, Workshop River Festival, Prinsep Ghat, Kolkata and Rajya Charukala Prasad painting workshop in West Bengal. After starting an MFA in painting in 2020, she exhibited as part of the annual academic exhibition and was awarded the Ajay Bankim Memorial Scholarship. In 2021, she participated in the Kochi Student Biennale, the Annual Birla Academy of Art and Culture, the Annual Exhibition of Bombay Art Society and, in India, in the exhibition ‘1971: Retrospective’.
She participated in the Emami Art Residency Program in Kolkata and the Khoj Peers Residency Program in Delhi. Recently her works were exhibited at ‘World Within World Without’, a group exhibition at the Bikaner House in New Delhi and at the Ravi Jain Memorial Foundation Annual Awards Show at the Dhoomimal Gallery in Delhi.
We interviewed this young artist on the occasion of the awarding of the gold medal at the 17th International Tapestry Triennial in the Central Museum of Textile in Łódź, Poland.
When and how did you choose to be an artist?
Since childhood all of us love to paint and draw and I was not an exception. I can remember, when I was in class eight, I used to go to a teacher who taught us drawing. From him I got to know about “art college”, and I started to cheris a desire to take admission in art college. And after a few years when I got admitted, the exact journey bagin.
You are an artist who uses different expressive mediums. When and why do you choose textile materials and techniques?
Where I took admission ‘ Govt college of art and craft, Calcutta”, there the faculties specially emphasized on oil painting. But another mediums were also allowed. So I started to work with acrylic, wash, print etc and started to experiment with these mediums.
So when I came back to my village at COVID period, I tried to work but felt that I can’t manage those required materials here. Then a thought hit my mind that once upon a time here in our Village, women used to make so many handicrafts, did stitches in their leisure to show case their work like seating cloth, table cloth and so on. But now a days these habits have gone. Then I remembered that my elder sister also used to do the same and I also started to work with rest of the cloths and materials that she has left and began to experiment those with various mediums.
What are the themes you investigate through your art?
I usually do my work with my daily experience, memories and the surroundings. Actually I inspired by small things like rainfall, fallen leaves, changes of leaves colour from green to yellow, growth of tiny weeds, wall textures etc. All these observations help me a lot in my artistic practices. I believe each and every of these small things are individually also very much important and thus I try to show mainly women’s life in my practice. Being a woman I can feel them very much and observe their feelings also. And I think everywhere every people can relate a woman’s life like how it’s.
How central is the feminine unvierse and the women life in your artistic research?
Here my practice is going on that particular topic. I have started to observe village women behaviour from COVID period 2020. I think, I couldn’t relate this so sharply if I didn’t take admission in art college and stay a couple of years far from this village.
Women life is till now way more restricted. Specially in our society we can’t see gender equality so strongly. And you know this strong sense and practice is making me a kind of feminine and obviously, being a woman me myself can relate those barriers so firmly. I really believe in personal freedom. Thus this topic has become my practice topic now a days.
One of your works recently won the gold medal at the 17th International Tapestry Triennial in Lodz. How was this tapestry born and what is it about?
I work with my daily life experiences and the experience that I gather from other women’ s life. After 5 years when I came back in my village I started to observe things differently. I felt that in my childhood I was really free that epic feeling made me realise that most people may felt more free in their childhood.Then we came into contact with various things and we had different views. At that time we had a close relationship with nature. As we got older, this relationship was severed. But when we all grow up we come close to reality. Then our relationship with the home ismore then the external environment. In various cases we are limited. In my works various memories will come up which one happened.
I just wanted to share those feelings through my works. And I have done these only. I have added so meny mediums here with textile medium like – die, tea strain, wash, Nepali handmade paper etc.i made the figure here withdiscarded clothes, chain stitch, kantha stitch. I am using discarded clothes in a new way. Abandoned clothes such as those worn in a corner, are still restricted to girls in many cases I still see and feel. I think the topics that I have choosen can be shown more gracefully with these mediums. Ago women could depict so many stories through their handcrafts but here I have depicted the story of women through my work. As an artist, I think it’s vital to experiment with various mediums in any artistic research and you know I really enjoy the reactions and opportunities I get through my works.
What did this award mean to you?
I have got a huge opportunity to show Indian culture and tradition in front of international viewers as my work was displayed in Central Museum of Lodz, Poland. I would thank to all of them who have arranged this exhibition.
I got astonished when I get to know that I became the gold medal winner. Also it made me glad to feel that my works have touched people. Obviously this medal has given my work an another level of inspiration. I want to thank all the curators, who have increased my self confidence and I want to promise that I would give my best in future also.
What are your plans for the near future?
I do nothing with plans, and now all I want to continue my practice as usual and want to participate in various exhibitions. I think I would get more opportunities to show my experience and another side of our society to viewers and this can happen only through my practice.